Olusegun Obasanjo, former president, has called on Amina Zakari, the newly appointed head of election collation centre for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the 2019 elections, to step aside as the nation elects its leaders next month.
The appointment of Mrs Zakari has drawn condemnation from Nigerians including the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). She is said to be related to President Muhammadu Buhari, who seeks a second term in office on the platform of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC).
The former president who supported the incumbent president during the 2015 general election has parted ways with the Nigerian leader. Obasanjo accused Buhari of incompetence, nepotism among others.
Although the presidency has denied the claim that the INEC official is related to the president by blood, calls for her to step down continues to rent the air.
The latest is from Mr Obasanjo who had described himself as an alarm raiser. He said the lady, having being related to the president by marriage, should step aside as she could not be trusted.
“Amina Zakari has become too controversial a figure to be able to give assurance of free, fair and credible election for INEC,” the former president said on Sunday in an open letter titled “Point for Concern and Action.”
“President Buhari and her family have declared that there is no blood relationship but there is relationship through marriage and that is more than enough for the good lady to step aside.
“A judge does not sit in judgement over a case once he or she becomes a cause for controversy or one side in the case has strongly objected to the judge.
“Madam Amina Zakari should, in honour, stay out and not be seen as a source of contamination of the election. Otherwise, it will be difficulty to deny the rumour that she is being assigned to Collation Centre for one duty only – to write out figures that are not results of the voting in the field on fake results sheets without water mark or on genuine results sheets which she will have access to as a Commissioner,” Obasanjo said.
While passing a vote of no confidence on the electoral body, the former president said it’s never to late to make amends.
“Amina Zakari is not the only Commissioner that can be in the Collation Centre. Let the INEC Chairman act boldly and impartially and prove his absolute neutrality and responsiveness to contribute to make the election peacefully free, fair and credible. His integrity needs to be transparently demonstrated,” he said.
“We should remember that there had been reports of INEC sponsored rigging in the past, and also with INEC officials through collation and with officials being put in party coordinators’ dresses and working for the political party favoured by INEC and also putting the dresses of other parties on INEC-favoured parties and police uniforms on INEC-favoured parties to rig all the elections for the favoured party. Like all of us, INEC knows all these and it should devise means to make sure they do not happen. But will they? One way will be to only allow card readers to be means of authenticating voters and where there is no such authentication, it should mean no voting.
“The second is to use only identity cards with watermarks issued by INEC itself to party officials only for identification of political party coordinators, officials and agents and not political parties dresses or arm and wrist bands which anybody can wear for purposes of identification on election duty or function. Both the Presidency and the National Assembly must so far be commended for adequately providing funding as confirmed by INEC, and therefore funding cannot be an excuse for poor performance by INEC,” the elderstatesman said.